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‘Triller Money’: How a TikTok Competitor Is Buying Star Power

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When talk of a possible TikTok ban began in July, the leaders of a small social video app called Triller saw a growth opportunity.

To attract users, the company set its sights on TikTok’s biggest names. Some of the Sway Boys, a group of TikTok influencers, had been toying with the idea of building their own app to compete with TikTok, but after a discussion with Ryan Kavanaugh, the majority owner of Triller and a veteran entertainment executive, they decided the platform could be good for them.

Triller offered the creators a deal: Tell your audience on TikTok that you’re moving to Triller, and we’ll give you equity and roles within the company. You can still post on TikTok, they were told, but only if you post on Triller more frequently. In turn, of the Sway Boys, Josh Richards, 18, was named Triller’s chief strategy officer, and Griffin Johnson, 21, and Noah Beck, 19, joined as advisers with equity.

Soon, CNBC, Fox News and The Los Angeles Times were writing about TikTok defectors bound for Triller, an app they described as a viable replacement for TikTok should a ban be put in place. In August, Triller announced it was seeking a new funding round of $250 million, hiking its valuation to over $1 billion.

But could it live up to the hype?

ImageTriller provides any equipment the creators may need, like ring lights.
Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Founded in 2015, Triller bills itself as an app for making professional-looking music videos, quickly. Functionally, it’s different from TikTok: it has different editing tools; its users can’t “duet,” or react to videos; and while it offers top singles and hit songs, it lacks the extensive library of sounds and mash-ups that TikTok users employ to express themselves.

“I think there’s a lot of things on Triller that TikTok doesn’t have and vice versa, they both have their perks,” said Mr. Beck, of the Sway Boys.

Triller, for instance, has star power. The company has raised money from entertainment executives and celebrities, including Snoop Dogg, 21 Savage and Migos, and brought on a roster of high-profile users, among them the Weeknd, Marshmello, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Kendrick Lamar, Tyga, T.I. and Jake Paul.

The most important thing about Triller, some of its backers say, is that it’s an American company. Discussions of a TikTok ban revolved around data security concerns stemming from the fact that ByteDance, which owns TikTok, is a Chinese corporation. “Protect your family and our country do not use #tiktok,” Mr. Kavanaugh, 45, tweeted last October. “Take back your data, don’t let them destroy the US Music Industry and spy on our children. Work with the artists for the artists.” (In August, Bloomberg News reported that Triller had made a joint bid for TikTok’s operations in the U.S. and several other countries.)

To bring artists on, Triller has been pulling out all the stops. “Triller money” has become a recurring joke among TikTokers in Los Angeles, the punchline being that the company will do whatever it takes to partner with the right stars

Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times
Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times
Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Creators shuttle to and from Saddle Ranch Chop House, a Western-themed restaurant in West Hollywood, in a large black Mercedes-Benz sprinter van emblazoned with the app’s name on the side, thanks to a Triller-negotiated brand partnership. Once there, they pay with Saddle Ranch black cards loaded with unlimited funds, thanks to Triller.

When Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s most-followed star (90 million followers), announced she was joining Triller in September, the company provided her with a leased black Rolls-Royce with a “TRILLER” vanity plate. Triller leased a Mercedes-Benz for Josh Richards, another TikTok star. Triller talent are also treated to weekly sushi dinners at Nobu, where they brainstorm with executives while flaunting the meals on Instagram Stories.

Triller has also rented mansions in Los Angeles for top creators to live in. After the TikTok stars Bryce Hall and Blake Gray had their power turned off by the city in August for flouting local guidelines around in-person gatherings, they moved into a Triller house. Last week, nine creators, including Tayler Holder, 23, of the Hype House, moved into another property rented by Triller.

The company pays for housekeeping, weekly Instacart orders, ground transportation, high speed Wi-Fi and production equipment like ring lights. Whatever the talent needs to make content, Triller will get. For one recent video by a creator, the company secured a helicopter.

Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times

In July, Triller began offering creators hundreds of dollars a month for posts on the app. Quran Stenline, 21, known online as @SwagBoyQ, said the company offered him money to use the app and also guaranteed that his videos would be featured on Triller’s version of the For You page, which is the equivalent of TikTok’s front page.

Mr. Stenline turned the opportunity down. “I don’t think that’s fair for smaller creators or other creators in general who are trying to get looked at,” he said. At least on TikTok, he said, everyone has a fairer shot at getting noticed.

Tyler Bott, 18, who has 2.6 million followers on TikTok, also received a message from a partnership manager at Triller offering him money to post with the app. He demurred, but the company reached out again in September.

“TikTok is going to be banned in the US!” the manager wrote. “Every US stars are coming to Triller,” followed by three fire emojis. “For the occasion, we’re launching a huge campaign this weekend, we’re asking every artist and influencers to make as many videos as possible in order for the app to get viral and become the first app in the world.”

Mr. Bott thought the tone of the message seemed off. “I thought it was weird they were celebrating TikTok being shut down,” he said. “It seemed like they were just trying to get success from the demise of the app. Usually, I feel like professional companies don’t send messages to creators about their excitement about a competitor getting shut down.”

Creators have also found the app frustrating to navigate. “Every time I try to use Triller it’s a terrible experience,” said Doug Marland, 23, who has 2.3 million followers on TikTok. “I feel like the only way they can get creators to use the app is pay them. I don’t think any creators would willingly use the app otherwise.”

Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times
Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Questions have also come up about the accuracy of Triller’s reported metrics. In August, Triller threatened to sue Apptopia, a third-party app analytics company, for providing estimates of Triller’s app downloads that were vastly lower than the company’s publicly reported numbers. Last week, six former Triller employees spoke to Business Insider claiming that the company “reported monthly active users that were five times higher than what some internal metrics showed.”

Where Triller has seen a lot of organic engagement is with President Donald J. Trump’s supporters.

On Aug. 15, the president’s social team began publishing videos under his name. When a rap contest called the #MAGAChallenge took off on Triller, President Trump tweeted that he would fly the winners of the contest to the White House. (Two Triller employees resigned from the company after the challenge went viral.) Donald Trump Jr. joined Triller in early September and posted an eight-minute monologue on how he believes TikTok is bad for America.

While TikTok and Facebook have cracked down on disinformation this year, banning hashtags and pages associated with conspiracy theories like QAnon and Pizzagate, Triller has allowed them to flourish. Mr. Kavanaugh said the decision not to ban such content was intentional.

“Our view,” he said, “is if it’s not illegal, if it’s not unethical, it doesn’t harm a group, and it’s not against our terms of service, we’re not going to filter or ban it. I personally have a huge problem with tech companies being an arbiter of truth. We don’t pick a side in anything, we’re about freedom of speech. We’re not going to decide what mud we think is dirty and what mud we think is clean.”

Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times
Credit…Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Though Triller has successfully signed talent, it has not yet proved its ability to launch the careers of influencers. TikTok is still the default place young people go to start from anonymity and grow an audience.

But Mr. Kavanaugh said all that will change soon. Next week, the app is rolling out a new algorithmically curated feed meant to help creators who are building a following from scratch. “All the people who feel like they’re not getting plays or views, they will,” Mr. Kavanaugh said. Triller is also working on bringing more of TikTok’s top female creators onto the app; so far, most of its partner creators are men.

The company says its priority is helping creators monetize. Mr. Kavanaugh believes that influencers today are like pro athletes before they began doing huge partnership deals. Most are doing one-off campaigns, but Triller wants to facilitate bigger, long-term partnerships. In that vein, the company introduced a product called Crosshype, which helps determine the value of a Triller campaign in terms of C.P.M., or cost per thousand views.

Mr. Kavanaugh said that he knows that at the end of the day, what creators on any app want the most is to be able to make a living. “Let’s say a TikToker is going to make $300,000 on a deal with TikTok,” he said. “They’ll probably make $2 million with us. Ninety-eight of the top 100 TikTok influencers are on Triller, and they’re making more money with a smaller company. They’re making three or four times the money from brands because we’ve created a whole new ecosystem where it creates much more value for everyone.”

Even if Triller doesn’t overtake TikTok, it can still become a big business. “TikTok and Triller can coexist and both be successful,” said Anis Uzzaman, the chief executive of Pegasus Tech Ventures and an investor in Triller.

Mr. Kavanaugh said this is only the beginning of a major shift in entertainment and consumption, and he hopes Triller will be a part of that change. “The world moves fast,” he said. “It’s all instant gratification. There’s instant fame and instant content, and we think this is how the future of the world is going to be.”

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With a dose of experience, intuition and resilience, Peruvian winemakers resist the pandemic and self-generate their income

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October 20, 2020 9 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The new reality that we have entered globally for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic can be likened to a scenario where humans and organizations, like titans and unicorns , not only coexist in a different environment but also They struggle to excel and ensure their survival in the midst of an unstoppable digital transformation and an accelerating fourth industrial revolution.

However, in this context it also does the same to survive an apparently simple business model where a dose of experience, intuition and resilience predominates, which serve to learn from mistakes and to ensure business continuity, in the middle of closing or the transformation of countless establishments.

We are talking about the inevitable shopkeepers or winemakers, who have immense potential to explore so that they can empower themselves and professionalize themselves, since at the moment a large part of them work without major techniques and state-of-the-art tools that can allow them to become professional and more productive. section of the value chain in which they operate.

Despite the fact that the health emergency paralyzed almost all the economic and productive sectors of the country, the traditional wineries or neighborhood stores did not stop for an instant despite the limitations and social restrictions imposed since the beginning of the pandemic to prevent the spread of the virus.

The resilience of shopkeepers and winemakers have left us inspiring lessons to rethink the relationship between survival, thought and action in the midst of a pandemic, since these true “own account” have not only secured a means to self-generate income, but have also formed a great economic force in their respective countries.

The importance of this business model is reflected in various statistics from South American markets, which indicate that the sales of stores or warehouses may have declined significantly in the current situation, but together they make up a great economic force.

According to a study by the consulting firm Fundes , wineries or neighborhood stores represent 40% of grocery sales in Latin America, which makes them a great economic force.

The resilience of shopkeepers and winemakers have left us inspiring lessons to rethink the relationship between survival, thought and action in the midst of a pandemic / Image: Depositphotos.com

To “get up earlier”

The common denominator behind the stories of each winery is the need to self-generate its own economy, in addition to being part of a family inheritance or an opportunity to raise a family, as well as the strength to overcome obstacles and crises with limited resources and minimal support of traditional channels.

In the midst of the social restrictions imposed by the quarantine in Peru , mainly in phase 1, I had the opportunity to talk with several shopkeeper friends -from different geographical locations in Lima-, about their expectations regarding the continuation of their businesses and the adjustments to the supply chain that allow them to continue serving their customers.

Most of the interviewees indicated that they had not stopped since the beginning of the pandemic and their sales continued to maintain almost the same levels, with the difference that now it was necessary to “get up earlier” to go to look for merchandise, given that many production centers of consumer goods were operating at 30% of their capacity, which caused some delays in receiving their orders.

They were also forced to work fewer hours due to the limitations imposed by the health emergency and the “curfew” at night.

In addition, they refer that they feel “privileged and grateful” because despite the sanitary restrictions imposed, they could continue working supplying the population with basic necessities, while other economic activities were paralyzed or are slowly being reactivated, not to mention that in many cases they were forced to close.

The common denominator behind the stories of each winery is the need to self-generate its own economy / Image: Depositphotos.com

Search for “best prices”

Although it is true that all of them are clients of large suppliers of mass consumption brands, those who deliver merchandise in their stores, continue to consider that it is better to go to the wholesale centers to find better prices and have a significant stock of part of their products. In this search, the maxim that they always keep in mind is “you have to know how to buy”, and also “know how to sell”.

One of the resources used to mitigate the impact of declines in sales was selling stationery, bazaar, and cleaning supplies. In addition, a great strength in these times is having a repowering and trained “delivery” that complies with the required health protocols.

The pandemic and quarantine do not seem to have left Peruvian winemakers in panic or anxiety. It was and is the opportunity to demonstrate resilience and put into practice the lessons learned from personal, family or national crises, since Peru lived through years of violence and economic crisis. Likewise, they should and must demonstrate that they are not conformists, that they have quick adaptability, that there is no time for regrets and that, based on reality, achievable goals should be set.

In recent years many of them went through great challenges and abrupt falls, which made them stagger and test the direction of the ship that they had underway.

It has also been difficult for many of them to go from manual to electronic billing systems and stock control with QR code, contactless payment methods, electronic wallets and apps to use their wholesale orders that are very helpful, but they are working in the process of adaptation while others have migrated to changes that are imposed as necessary to remain in force.

Goals achieved

A good part of the Peruvian winemakers have gone from being a small shop to a “minimarket” with success stories that have demanded between 10 and 30 years. This has allowed them to build their own home or buy an apartment and live better, as well as provide their children with a better education, access to private health, not having over-indebtedness, among other achievements that show their personal improvement, as a result of their entrepreneurship.

The strategy that they have implemented for this transformation is to offer a sale for convenience and value-added service, where the client can pay more, having as compensation the immediacy, proximity and solutions.

Thus, they remain the option for people of all generations who want to satisfy an immediate need by resorting to the closest winery to their home, or in other cases ordering through social networks or a phone call.

Added to this is also offering specialized or highly segmented products that are chosen based on the consumer knowledge of their customers. Something that may be easier to know, as the phrase “A good cuber eye” says, and without having an integrated CRM program.

As a corollary, it is appropriate to point out that if shopkeepers had more impulse to progress, access to training with educational quality programs on Marketing, Trade Marketing, Visual Mershandising, Canvas, Design Thinking , Lean Startup , Accounting, Administration, among others, we could talk about a whole power to be developed so that it contributes to economic growth and development according to current times.

This development would have to be agile, dynamic, interactive and be put into practice with traceability .

These traditional businesses have always faced the risk of disappearing as a result of innovation and investments by powerful economic groups. Perhaps today is the opportunity for them to envision and strengthen strategic alliances and businesses that consolidate them as lasting business models, as well as traditional and familiar ones.

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Intel Casts Off More Memory Chip Business in $9 Billion Deal

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ImageThe deal announced on Monday with SK Hynix, a South Korean company, involves NAND flash memory chips, which store data in a variety of devices.
Credit…Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Intel moved to further distance itself from its original business, reaching a deal to sell a remaining memory chip unit to SK Hynix of South Korea for $9 billion.

The transaction, announced on Monday, includes Intel’s most important factory in China. But it excludes a proprietary memory technology that the company has been promoting as an important tool for accelerating speeds in cloud data centers.

Intel for decades has been known for supplying the microprocessors that serve as calculating engines in most computers. But Intel was founded in 1968 mainly to make memory chips, which store data in all kinds of electronic devices.

Those components are largely interchangeable and come from multiple suppliers, which compete fiercely on price and subject the market to boom and bust periods. So Intel, starting in the 1980s, began retreating from segments of the memory business to focus efforts on more profitable microprocessor sales.

The deal with SK Hynix focuses on chips known as NAND flash memory, which store data in smartphones, computers and many other products. Intel’s flash memory business has been doing well lately, with revenue up 76 percent in the second quarter owing to factors like pandemic-related spending on personal computers.

Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

But Intel, which has recently suffered from manufacturing problems, has at other times been hurt by drops in flash memory pricing. Robert Swan, Intel’s chief executive, previously signaled that it might seek a partner or acquirer for the unit.

“Memory is never a great business,” said Jim Handy, a market researcher with Objective Analysis. The deal with SK Hynix is “a very natural step” for Intel, he added.

Intel primarily makes flash memory chips at a factory in Dalian, China, though the company also conducts related development work in New Mexico.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Monday that the companies were close to a deal. A news release issued in the evening by SK Hynix said it would make an initial $7 billion payment to acquire both the Dalian factory and NAND flash business as well as a related business selling storage drives that use the chips.

Until a final closing of the deal, not expected until March 2025, Intel will continue to make chips at the Dalian factory, the companies said. After the close, SK Hynix will make a final $2 billion payment and receive other assets, including intellectual property needed to make the chips.

The deal does not include rights to a memory technology called 3D XPoint, developed in a joint venture with Micron Technology, which offers higher data transfer speeds than conventional NAND flash. That technology, which Intel markets under the brand name Optane, “is Intel’s crown jewel in the memory sphere,” said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Intel has spent billions of dollars perfecting the technology, Mr. Handy said, but the latest quarterly results suggest it may no longer be selling the chips at a loss.

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CVS Health will hire 15,000 more workers ahead of flu season.

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CVS Health announced on Monday that it planned to hire 15,000 workers to prepare for expected increases in coronavirus and flu cases in the United States during the fall and winter months.

More than 10,000 of the new roles will be full-time and part-time licensed pharmacy technicians at CVS Pharmacy locations to help administer Covid-19 tests, process prescriptions and dispense medications.

“Additional team members typically are needed every flu season,” Lisa Bisaccia, chief human resources officer of CVS Health, said in a statement. “However, we’re estimating a much greater need for trained pharmacy technicians this year given the continued presence of Covid-19 in our communities.”

The additional hires may also help the company distribute a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available, if federal officials permit pharmacy technicians to administer it.

In March, CVS Health announced plans to fill 50,000 jobs across the country, the “most ambitious hiring drive in the company’s history,” it said at the time. The company has more than 4,000 drive-through coronavirus testing sites across the United States.

Separately, Target said on Monday that it would pay a fourth bonus to its employees who work in stores, distribution centers and staff and employee contact centers, as the pandemic continues and the retailer’s sales have soared this year.

More than 350,000 workers will receive $200 by early November, Target said.

Sapna Maheshwari contributed reporting.

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